As part of our regularly scheduled COVID testing, we tested 565 students, faculty, and staff. From that total, we had 9 positive results for a positivity rate of 1.6%. This is a significant reduction in our positivity rate from our last round of testing which took place immediately following winter break.
Of the 9 positives, 4 were students already in quarantine because they lived with an adult family member who tested positive. Four other students tested positive: two 12th graders, one 10th grader, and one 2nd grader in Ms. Guyer’s class. All students that tested positive will isolate for 14 days from the date of testing, except in the case of previously quarantined students that showed symptoms. In these cases, the symptomatic students will return 14 days after they first exhibited symptoms and after 24 hours of being symptom free.
I hope my letter finds everyone well but I fear that with respect to our COVID situation, we are looking at a very difficult upcoming 6 weeks. That being said, I believe if we continue to follow our COVID policies at school, we can successfully navigate the difficulties.
Our test results were returned less than 24 hours after we shipped the test kits, a positive sign that despite increasing positivity rates and a rising number of COVID cases, we are still able to access timely results. We had 34 positive test results from 576 samples tested. Of these 34, 27 were students from all grades except for grades 6 and 11. Seven were faculty and staff.
I thought my letter of this morning was going to be my last letter of the year, but 2020 isn’t going away quite so easily.
On Monday, we received word that two of our basketball players had tested positive for COVID-19, one on the ninth grade team and one on the boys junior varsity team. As a precaution, we offered all basketball players COVID testing on Tuesday. A significant majority came in for testing and our results returned six additional positive results, five players and a coach. The additional positives included members of all three levels of boys Upper School basketball; 9th grade, JV, and Varsity.
I hope all are taking some much needed rest over Winter Break, and I look forward to some time off next week to recharge for 2021. I think I speak for everyone when I say I will not miss 2020. However, in what I think is a successful effort to find a silver lining, I want to end the year by reflecting on some of the numerous challenges faced by North Cross and how I believe we have survived (and are surviving) them to become a stronger institution.
Of course, and with apologies to Susan Wenk, you are all aware that part of my job is to be the head cheerleader for North Cross. For ten years, I have extolled the virtue of our educational program, expressed pride in our faculty, and spoken highly about the achievements of our student body. I truly believe it when I say, “there has never been a better time to be at North Cross.”
I hope all had a good Thanksgiving and our week of distance learning continues to go well.
We have received the results from our most recent round of COVID testing. We tested 610 faculty/staff and students on Wednesday and the results show 7 positives. Each of these positives were asymptomatic and they will quarantine for 14 days from the day of the test.
These are very concerning times with rapid increases in the positivity rates in the Roanoke Valley and record numbers of cases across the country. As a result, we elected to test our entire school community last Thursday and with only five tests pending, our results have shown no positive cases from the nearly 600 tests we performed. Again, with only five tests pending, we have seen no positive test results.
This past week, we tested more than 310 faculty, staff, and students for the COVID virus.
On Monday, we tested 30 coaches and members of our football team. These students and staff had been in quarantine for five days following exposure to a positive teammate. All tested negative and all returned to school.
On Thursday, we tested the second half of our community. We had three students that tested positive: a 12th grade boy, 11th grade girl, and a 5th grade boy in Mrs. Clark’s homeroom. In each case, we have conducted contact tracing, identified students/faculty in close contact, and we have asked them to quarantine for five days before being tested again. As there were no direct connections between these cases, we believe we are not seeing any outbreak of the virus within our classroom settings.
I have had a number of heartfelt conversations with parents and Board members about the wisdom of athletics during the pandemic. In these conversations, I let people know that athletics are an important part of life at North Cross and that we do not view them as an extra, rather an integral part of school life. In addition, we feel that keeping students active during stressful times is a positive on many levels. And finally, by maintaining a testing regimen, we feel we can identify positive cases in time to avoid significant outbreaks.
Unfortunately, testing identified a second positive case on our football team and for the second time in three weeks, we are forced to cancel our football game this weekend. This player was symptomatic and left practice early on Wednesday. In addition, this student has been distance learning since the beginning of the month so there is no chance of direct spread outside the confines of the football team.
This past week, we tested slightly more than 350 students and members of our faculty and staff. Results show that we had three positive results, all asymptomatic. We had positive results in Mrs. Luckay’s JK3 class, Mrs. Dunagan’s kindergarten class, and Mrs. Guyer’s second grade class. Parents for each of the positive students have been notified and these students will quarantine for 14 days.
As part of our routine testing of our football team, we has one player that tested positive for COVID. As a result, we have canceled our away game scheduled for today and our football team will quarantine until Tuesday when they will be tested again. In addition, we have identified four other students that were in close contact with the positive student.
I do not believe there is any spread as the rest of the team tested negative but we will know more following next weeks test results.
The cancellation of a high school football game because of a COVID positive player may become newsworthy. I am including a press release so you have further information.
Thanks all and I hate to interrupt your well deserved fall break.
Christian J. Proctor, PhD
Dr. Proctor is the ninth Head of School at North Cross and has served as such since 2011. He has more than 30 years of experience in education. He has served as headmaster at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina, St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana, Grace Episcopal School in Monroe, Louisiana, and as Interim Headmaster at Wesley Academy in Houston, Texas. In each location, Dr. Proctor’s tenure was marked by creativity, innovation, and school growth.